News & Events


Carolina Arts & Sciences Magazine features A Medieval ‘First in Flight’! Read the story here


A Medieval ‘First in Flight’: Student Research
Monday May 2, 3pm – Hanes Art Center, Room 117

“The Flight of Ibn Firnas: An Early Experiment in Thermal Soaring?”

Jillian Troftgruben, Math major & licensed pilot will present her research on wind and topography as potential contributing factors in Ibn Firnas’ experiment

“Visualizing Ibn Firnas in Popular Culture”

Claire Drysdale, Morehead Scholar & Art major will present her Pearman-funded research on using digital tools such as Timeline JS to chart Ibn Firnas’ image in popular visual culture


Aerodynamics research at UNC’s “Research Slam”

July 11, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

UNC Morehead Planetarium & Science Center

Joe & Aaron, student researchers in UNC’s Computational Astronomy & Physics summer program present their aerodynamics research at “Research Slam!” on July 11, 2015. This program features a series of three-minute teaser presentations by CAP/REU student researchers featuring their current work. Topics range from probing how cell nuclei respond to micro-mechanical forces to flight-testing the first medieval flying machine (which beat out the Wright brothers by 1000 years!) to tracking the cosmic life cycle, from the primordial seeds of the first stars to the radioactive dust of exploded stars recycled into new solar systems. This program is free and appropriate for school-age children and adults. This program will be held at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s Science Stage.

CAP/REU student researcher Joe Smith presenting at UNC’s Research Slam



Glaire Anderson, “The Art & Science of a Medieval ‘First in Flight” @ Flyleaf Books

June 23, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketchbooks are clear evidence that interest in the possibility of human flight has a long history predating the Wright Brothers, but few realize that experiments in flight occurred as early as the ninth century. Glaire Anderson discusses a long-lost medieval Arabic account of a flight that took place in Córdoba, the capital of Islamic Spain. She argues that this account, and the earliest Islamic scientific instruments, reveal unexpected but meaningful links between early Islamic art, architecture, and science.

Program Tuition: Register ahead of time and pay $18.00 per program or pay only $8 if you are a member of the UNC General Alumni Association (GAA). To register, click here.To check your membership status or to join the GAA, please visit or call 800.962.0742. GAA membership is open to all UNC alumni and friends. Tuition is $20.00 for everyone paying at the door.